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Sephiroth illuminated by the flames of Nibelheim.

The Nibelheim Incident refers to the destruction of the village of Nibelheim at the hands of Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII, and the events leading up to this. The hometown of two of the game's central protagonists, Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart, its destruction is frequently depicted in other media in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, and the incident has been subject to numerous retcons and retellings, although the basic chain of events has largely remained the same. The events told take place between September 22nd and October 1st, 2002, within the Planet's calendar.




Final Fantasy VII

The incident was initially told from Cloud's point of view. However, Sephiroth and Tifa later reveal that Cloud's recollection was faulty and the true sequence of the events was told, this time involving Zack Fair. Sometime after the incident, Zack is killed and the Mako-poisoned Cloud impresses Zack's memories onto his own, leading to a memory of the incident in which Cloud takes Zack's place, leaving Zack left out altogether.

As Told By Cloud

Nibelheim prior to its destruction.

Cloud relays the happenings of the incident to the other party members in Kalm after leaving Midgar. In Cloud's version of the events, he becomes a first class SOLDIER and is dispatched to Nibelheim with Sephiroth and two Shinra grunts to investigate a Mako Reactor at Mt. Nibel. He and Sephiroth arrive and stay the night before hiring Tifa as a guide up the mountain. Before leaving, a fan of Sephiroth's snaps a picture of the three of them. During the expedition, a bridge snaps and the group falls into the gorge - only one of the Shinra grunts survives.

At the reactor, Cloud and Sephiroth enter it to find a series of tanks containing vaguely-human creatures submersed in Mako. They discover a chamber at the top of the reactor labeled "Jenova" - the name Sephiroth was told belonged to his mother. Sephiroth begins to ponder what procedures were used to create the monsters. When Cloud suggests that the procedure for making SOLDIERs seemed similar, Sephiroth flies into a rage. Sephiroth storms back to Nibelheim and finds a secret basement in the abandoned Shinra Manor. It is there that he submerges himself in the old research notes left by Shinra scientists Professor Gast and Professor Hojo. These scientists had falsely identified the creature Jenova as a Cetra. Sephiroth spends three days in the basement alone reading Shinra's research on Jenova and the culmination of that research, the Jenova Project.

On the third day, Cloud returns to the Shinra Manor to find that Sephiroth had gone mad. His research on the Jenova Project led him to believe he was produced from Jenova's cells, in turn making him the last of the Cetra. He also came to believe that humans betrayed the Cetra and abandoned them to a mysterious disaster (ironically the coming of Jenova). Sephiroth leaves the mansion and sets the town ablaze. Cloud and Zangan attempt to find survivors, but find none. Cloud turns to see Sephiroth attack a few villagers then stare at him coldly before turning and walking towards Mt. Nibel.

Cloud follows Sephiroth to the Mako reactor and finds Tifa there weeping over her father's body, Sephiroth's Masamune still sticking out of his corpse. Grabbing the katana, Tifa rushes into the reactor and attacks Sephiroth, but he disarms her and stabs her before entering the chamber where Jenova's remains were held. Cloud picks up Tifa and carries her to safety before entering the chamber. Sephiroth rips a mechanical likeness of Jenova away from the capsule holding her, revealing Jenova herself. Cloud raises his sword to attack, and it is at this time that Cloud ends his story, his memory of the events afterward being hazy.

The True Events

Nibelheim burns.

After the party arrives at the Northern Crater, Sephiroth projects an illusion of the Nibelheim incident, showing Zack there in Cloud's place. Cloud, still believing his false memories, refuses to accept these visions, until Sephiroth notes Tifa's hesitation. Eventually, Tifa admits that Sephiroth's words are true, and that Cloud was never at the reactor. To prove it, Sephiroth shows Cloud the picture they took in the town, showing Zack in his place. This revelation, combined with Sephiroth's own mental influences, breaks Cloud's mind, and he hands the Black Materia to Sephiroth moments later. Cloud eventually resurfaces at Mideel, and through the intervention of Ultimate Weapon, he and Tifa are sent into the Lifestream and into Cloud's mind.

There, Tifa attempts to repair the damage caused by Sephiroth's manipulations, leading into a retelling of the event. The incident as remembered by Tifa involves Zack in Cloud's place, but otherwise proceeds as Cloud tells it until Tifa is attacked by Sephiroth and knocked unconscious. At this time, Cloud reveals he was at the town when it was destroyed - he was one of the two Shinra grunts who accompanied Zack and Sephiroth up the mountain. He was the same grunt who survived the fall, who kept Tifa out of the reactor, and who told Zack where to find Sephiroth within the mansion. However, because he pledged to join SOLDIER upon leaving years ago, he was embarrassed over his failure and so kept his identity secret during the time. Cloud's true memories surface, and a full account of the true events is finally given.

In the actual incident, Zack and Sephiroth, accompanied by Cloud and another grunt, arrived at the town and went to the reactor, and Sephiroth returned to read the research notes in the library just as Cloud originally told. After Sephiroth razes the town, Cloud is unconscious outside but regains consciousness to see Zack chase Sephiroth, and follows them. At the reactor, Zack confronts Sephiroth in Jenova's chamber, but is defeated and tossed out. Cloud arrives and takes up Zack's Buster Sword, attacking Sephiroth off his guard and stabbing him in the stomach. Sephiroth is greatly weakened, and Cloud takes the opportunity to return to Tifa and carry her aside. Sephiroth stumbles from Jenova's chamber moments later, clutching her head. After walking to the reactor entrance, a catwalk over a pool of Mako, Cloud attacks him, but this time Sephiroth is ready and stabs him. Cloud summons unknown strength, and uses the Masamune as a lever to throw Sephiroth off the catwalk and into the Lifestream.


Tifa's instructor Zangan, who was searching for survivors in the town, finds the three in the reactor and carries Tifa to safety, but when he attempts to return he finds Shinra is already there. Professor Hojo learns of what Sephiroth has done and puts his Jenova Reunion Theory into action, injecting the survivors, including Zack and Cloud, with Sephiroth's cells, turning them into Sephiroth Clones. The town is rebuilt to cover up the incident, with actors hired to play the part of the townspeople. Sephiroth vanishes for years until the events of Final Fantasy VII five years later, and his records are sealed by Shinra and he is officially declared missing in action, although many assume him dead.

Last Order

Poster for Last Order.

The OVA Last Order -Final Fantasy VII- retells the Nibelheim incident in flashbacks as Zack and Cloud flee the Shinra militia during their escape from Hojo's lab. The OVA was released as a bonus feature with the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, although it was not dubbed in English for its Western release, only subtitled. The depiction of the incident in Last Order takes many liberties with the story, likely due to only Kazushige Nojima being involved in its production and not the rest of the Final Fantasy VII staff.

In the flashbacks of Last Order, the Nibelheim incident is only told after Sephiroth razes the village. Sephiroth finishes his attack and proceeds to the reactor. Tifa arrives at the town and finds Zangan, who tells her it was Sephiroth who burned the town and that her father went to the Mako reactor on Mt. Nibel. A wounded villager warns her that is where Sephiroth has gone, but Tifa rushes to the mountain regardless. Zack and Cloud arrive shortly after, and Zangan tells them Tifa has gone to find her father and Sephiroth. Cloud stays to help Zangan rescue the townspeople while Zack finds Tifa.
On the mountain outside the reactor, Tifa finds her father, and he dies in her arms pleading for her to flee. Taking Sephiroth's Masamune from the ground, Tifa declares her hatred of Shinra and SOLDIER before charging into the reactor. Inside, Sephiroth approaches the door of Jenova's chamber as Tifa attacks him; he easily takes back his weapon and slices her, sending her falling back down the stairs. Tifa weakly murmurs Cloud's name as Sephiroth enters Jenova's chamber, and falls unconscious. She regains consciousness to see Zack leaning over her, and the two speak for a short moment before Zack enters Jenova's chamber. He confronts Sephiroth as he destroys the mechanical likeness of Jenova, and the two briefly battle, with Sephiroth winning.

Moments after, Cloud arrives and attacks Sephiroth using Zack's Buster Sword, stabbing him through the stomach. Wounded, Sephiroth slumps to the ground and Cloud runs to see Tifa. The two share a brief tender moment, before Sephiroth shatters Jenova's tank and seizes her head. Zack urges Cloud to finish him off, and Cloud charges, only to be impaled and thrown into Jenova's chamber. Stabbing him again and lifting him into the air, Sephiroth holds Cloud aloft as Cloud takes ahold of the blade and throws Sephiroth into the wall. Stunned by Cloud's strength, Sephiroth leaps into the pool of Mako below Jenova's chamber. Zangan is seen carrying Tifa to safety, and Hojo arrives as Zack and Cloud are carried away on stretchers; he orders Tseng to have them taken as test subjects for his new experiment.

Of the many tellings of the Nibelheim incident, Last Order's deviates the most from the events originally told, including new dialogue not originally present in the game and the various interactions between characters occurring in different places. Many of these changes were restored to their original depictions in the game, or retconned into something else entirely, in Crisis Core.

Before Crisis

Sephiroth's confrontation with Cloud at the reactor in Before Crisis.

Episode 12 of the mobile phone game Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- is a basic retelling of the event, with the player's character, a member of the Turks, sent to Nibelheim by Tseng to find out what has occurred at the reactor. After parachuting onto Mt. Nibel, the Turk saves Tifa from a group of monsters, and serves as a guide up the mountain to the reactor. Monsters are encountered around the reactor however, so Tseng orders the Turk to pull back. After taking a secret cable car down the mountain, the Turk phones Tseng who tells them the President has sent Sephiroth to the town to lead the investigation. The Turk hires Tifa to help Sephiroth up the mountain once he arrives.

Rendezvousing with Sephiroth, Zack and Cloud in town, Cloud begs them not to tell Tifa he's there. The next day, the Turk stays behind while the group investigates the reactor. Sephiroth returns and silently locks himself in his room at the inn without explanation for days. The game then shows Nibelheim ablaze. Tseng orders the Turk to follow Sephiroth to the reactor and find out what he is doing. Arriving at the reactor before Zack and Tifa, the Turk confronts Sephiroth and attacks him, but is knocked unconscious. The Turk regains consciousness as Cloud arrives at the reactor, following Tifa's cat, then Zangan, to her. Zangan takes Tifa to safety while the Turk enters Jenova's chamber. Sephiroth is thrown aside by Cloud, but still succeeds in claiming Jenova's head and leaps into the Lifestream to escape.

Afterward, during the first part of Episode 13, the Turk and Tseng assist Shinra in cleaning up all evidence of the incident and helping Professor Hojo set up the next round of the Jenova Project, which includes a brief exploration of the Shinra Mansion. In Episode 19, the Turk is assigned to help track Cloud and Zack when they escape Hojo.

Crisis Core

Nibelheim Incident as witnessed by Zack.

The PSP game Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, again retells the Nibelheim incident through the eyes of Zack. The journey to the reactor with Tifa, Cloud, Zack and Sephiroth is the same as told in Final Fantasy VII, until Zack and Sephiroth arrive at the door to Jenova's chamber. At this time, Genesis Rhapsodos attacks Zack and knocks him away, and tells Sephiroth what Jenova is and about the Jenova Project's two branches, Project S and Project G. Genesis tells Sephiroth he is the ultimate monster created by Project S, as Angeal Hewley is the ultimate monster of Project G. Sephiroth leaves the reactor, and when Zack returns to Nibelheim he stays at the Inn with Cloud, pondering what Genesis told them. In the morning, Tifa tells them Sephiroth has gone to the Shinra mansion.

A week later, during which time Sephiroth continued to read in the mansion library, Zack finds Cloud wounded in the Inn and the village on fire. He finds the "Wonder Hunter" boy and (should the player opt to) saves his mother. Together they flee the village and Shinra, for whom they now harbor a hatred much like Tifa's.

Zack then pursues Sephiroth to the Mako reactor, and after a brief confrontation with Tifa, enters Jenova's chamber. Sephiroth knocks him to a lower floor of the reactor, and this initiates two boss battles with Sephiroth, after which Zack is knocked out of the chamber. Cloud arrives and attacks Sephiroth, then tends to Tifa. Sephiroth emerges from Jenova's chamber with her head. Cloud attacks again but is stabbed by Sephiroth. Cloud grabs the blade and hurls Sephiroth into the pool of Mako underneath Jenova's chamber. Weakened, Cloud passes out, and Hojo arrives shortly after and decides to use him and Zack as test subjects.

While the incident remains hidden, it did not escape the attention of the press. A reporter wrote an article - which Zack receives via email - regarding an unknown incident in the location, and also reported the sudden lack of spoken accent which was previously native to the village and region.

Other Allusions

Sephiroth's iconic scene reproduced in Advent Children.

The Nibelheim incident is briefly alluded to in the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Sephiroth's scene of standing among the fires of Nibelheim, and the destruction of the Jenova likeness and her containment inside the reactor are just a few of the many scenes from the game that are recreated. In Advent Children Complete, Sephiroth stabs Cloud with the Masamune and lifts him into the air, paralleling their battle at the reactor. Sephiroth even mockingly reminds Cloud of the pain the latter experienced being stabbed then.

In the first revealed trailer for Dissidia Final Fantasy, a plume of fire bursts from the ground, and Sephiroth emerges from it and prepared to battle the Warrior of Light. In Sephiroth's EX Burst "Super Nova", his opponent is consumed in a wave of fire from an exploding star. As the animation for the attack ends, the camera pans out to reveal Sephiroth standing in the foreground in front of the fire, similar to his pose in the flames of Nibelheim.

Deleted Content

During the development of Final Fantasy VII, there were plans to have an NPC in Nibelheim tell a fabricated version of the Nibelheim Incident so as to explain the event to the general public. According to an NPC in the town, Shinra built the Mako Reactor at Mt. Nibel twenty-five years before the start of the game, and five years ago the townspeople ran Shinra out of town and took control of the reactor for themselves. President Shinra thus dispatched Sephiroth to the town to put down the uprising, and according to official records, he was killed. There would have been an option, however, to tell the NPC telling the story that these events are not true, but he does not listen. Another cut scene involved Tifa telling Aerith the true events of the town's destruction, and Aerith agreeing to help Tifa keep them secret from Cloud.

This article uses material from the "Nibelheim Incident" article on the Final Fantasy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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